Both women must’ve been epiphanies. There are no mirages in Las Vegas unless one is homeless or high.
At the bank to pay bills and withdraw cash, two uncommon sights filled my view. Uncommon for Las Vegas.
These visions were tall, slender, dressed in pleasant near peasant summer wear. Billowy dresses. Sandals only remarkable for their utility rather than bizarre design. Shades. Long and free hair bounced along the smooth shoulders of each.
Amazing. No wild-style coif that defied convention. No tinted tresses which burned retinas. Nor any sour couture that assailed good taste.
Neither had disfigured herself through ink, piercing, nor had succumbed to the apparent Southern Nevada female extremes – hypertrophy or obesity. These were normal women, no? Femmes I might’ve lent cursory views before relocating to Las Vegas. Now, though, they became revelations.
Each was a plain beauty. And I was grateful.
In moving to Nevada, the only honest due diligence I’d performed involved expenses. Since my coke-abusing alcoholic erstwhile employers had neglected the firm into ruin, erasing ex-employees’ futures in the process, my goals had been reduced to basics. Cheap comforts.
Whatever aspirations I hoped pursuing later in life those mongrels had squandered over $250 prix fixe lunches (per diner, cocktails not included), late hung-over arrivals at the office, midday coke-induced paranoia, unanswered client inquiries (just the sort of thing which hemorrhaged clientele), no heeding dwindling company accounts, and early departures for happy hours. A minute’s worth of warning, a chance to prepare, and Las Vegas would not have served as refuge.
But any port in a storm, especially in a leaky boat.
Had I remained East, I only would’ve been living to work. If the same disaster had struck in my 30s, I could’ve rebooted. Or in my 40s, even, while tough, still possible. At 52? No. At least not in Metropolitan New York.
My former situation had allowed me to rise into a sweet spot. (A condition made even more apparent over a recent weekend. A Las Vegas acquaintance had marveled at the extent of travels. She’d assumed I’d been ensconced in some cushy corporate gig. No. Just benefiting from a certain kind of Northeast living. Nothing extraordinary.) That only possible through people and circumstances no longer existing. Besides, living in New York would’ve meant too much past tense living.
So Las Vegas it became.
Having swung in and out of the Southwest nearing four decades, I knew what to expect. Or thought so. No Eastern greenhorn here. No, really. Before GPS, cell phones, “dudes” like me were required to complete desert orientation courses.
Indeed, back then you were the one you waited for.
What the Southwest lacks in cosmopolitan attractions, it makes up for in outdoor living. Those 320+ days of sunshine demand bodies outside, preferably in motion. Such environments promote healthier physiques. Why? Fewer, lighter clothes expose more skin. More skin, further possible unflattering attention drawing flaws.
Thus, more activities beneath the great blue cloudless vault above. Just a casual census demonstrates a higher portion of fit people in the region.
Las Vegas, however, excises itself from the pattern.
The deviation registered during my initial Las Vegas reconnaissance, but it was maybe a tertiary concern at best. Having resided here nearly a year, it’s no longer a peripheral view. In fact stating with no exaggeration whatsoever, it now looms large.
Whenever the Center for Disease Control ranks the nation’s most preventable and prevalent maladies, Las Vegas must skew the stats. It should earn an asterisk. Lung cancer and hypertension may top national charts, but here two entirely different indices spray paint the picture.
Gluttony and sloth. It’s as if the Deep South and Appalachia coalesced then coagulated in the Mojave. If so, then fried bananas and peanut butter slathered under soft-scoop ice cream is the regional dish. Of course the bowl’s a big one. The kind used for mixing cake batter. The whole gloppy concoction can probably be found on the Strip, sold as “the Elvis Cobbler.”
Doubtlessly it is a savory the locals devour. But then what foodstuffs don’t draw the resident herd to the trough?
Certainly unfit conditions are not exclusive to Las Vegas. With frequency Americans are warned how our increasingly sedentary natures, our “super-sizing” urges worsen the nation’s health. And yes, at my former New York address plenty of locals exceeded suggested avoirdupois recommendations. But mixed among such a large populace few made such big impressions. Even the rare ones challenging truck scales mostly failed drawing fascination. Or ridicule.
Las Vegas, however, inverts that picture. Here, I am reminded of that bouncer manning the door at a flash Manhattan club. Other than 86-ing drunks, he’s also assigned to be as judgmental and discerning as possible. After all, hauteur must be established because attitude and image are everything.
A prospective club-goer arrives at the formidable clipboard and velvet rope barricade. His garments indicate a fat wallet. Unfortunately, what’s inside his glad rags yell “fat fuck!”
Naturally neither of his satchel feet are crossing that threshold. Indignant at the brushoff, the rebuffed demands reason denying his entry.
This being New York where no one is better than anybody else, though everyone else is superior to all others, the bouncer has no compunction answering.
“There’s fat. There’s obese. Then there’s you.”
Were that bouncer in Las Vegas, he’d have to expand his last category into excess.
Unlike, say, Albuquerque or Phoenix, Las Vegas caters to escaping the climate. The outside world.
In those other cities, the best climate-beating pastimes may only include mall browsing or attending movies. Yet isn’t there’s only so much shopping or watching dopey summer films any kind of really active mind can stand.?
Las Vegas, however, has gambling dens. These engage far more insidiously than sales or slapstick. Casinos, betting parlors, they’re addictive. Licensees must be commended for first luring bettors, weakening their resolve, then feeding the addicts’ dependencies.
Aside from the always available opportunity to win big, the establishments are air conditioned. Much should be said about air conditioning during the torrid Mojave months. Can praise be fulsome enough?
While much of the nation recognizes the dangers of smoking, these emporiums allow and encourage the habit. So, right there, gambling and smoking, two addictive habits one pushing the other.
To keep gamblers enthralled at machines or tables, comp drinks. At least bettors would stir if he or she needed a cocktail. Something about walking clears the mind. But no. Everything is done to keep those heinies on their seats, to keep bettors wagering.
Eventually, though, even the most degenerate gambler must stoke his or her human machine. Since casinos make inordinate gains off slots, and these the refuge of less daring but steadier clientele, the casinos offer buffet dining. While there are promotions associated, vis-à-vis gambling points which can be placed towards food bills, the only truly worthwhile allure is endless plates. One hopes “all you can eat” is an American concept. Given our bounty, it’s so us.
Ah. The crux of this post. It’s beyond thick.
Outside the Strip, into the neighborhoods, lack of discipline, lack of caring, (probably could add lack of esteem, pride and self-awareness) becomes starburst glaring. On these lanes, fat on the slope to porky assail observers. Red apples and Bartlett pears form the body types, and the steps of both are labored. Whose belly doesn’t throw an eclipse across his or her feet? Whose ass doesn’t bulge and threaten to drag as much as protrude and wobble widely?
The packed-on glut mars susceptible features in what could be debilitating manners. Slabbed on faces so, the mass inflates cheeks and renders eyes into slits.
But interleaving with the general public narrowly relieves this congestion. Being inside a casino concentrates it. Especially at the buffet.
What is the apt metaphor? A flock of grounded Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons fits. Aloft, they’re majestic. Street-level? Bulky and cumbersome.
Overweight in Las Vegas is commonplace. Seeing limbs Jovian girth has shortened into shrunken appendages no longer astounds. But this is beyond overweight. This is fat. The kind that transforms skin into sausage casings; that pushes trembling bulges from bands and shaky rolls past straps; which turn already unseemly bellies into plenums of flesh in suspended gelatinous avalanche. It tumbles beyond obesity. It lurches past tubs of goo. Gravitational-pull heaves pour them into vats of suet.
Evolution continuing apace in Las Vegas as it is, how soon until receding chins and sloping foreheads meet at noses?
Sometimes it is to wonder how none of these mouth-breathers never recognized the plights their appetites introduced. Were there never instances when what the mirror reflected raised alarms? Of course this being Las Vegas there’s always someone staggering around or overflowing on a portable scooter who’s larger. Given these assuaging comparisons, the deluded enormities can shamelessly proclaim, “At least I’m not as big a sack of shit as that.”
Oh yes. They are.
At least give the ambulatory ones credit. Maneuvering a walking circus tent can’t be easy. Hindered by debilitation of their choice, frequently short of breath, mass curtailing flexibility, mass also stressing joints, movement is true effort.
Against those slouching yet mobile, the porkers who’ve succumbed to scooters should already be dead. Convenience and subsidies have extended their lack of self-control. While motorized devices provide mobility, they also permit avoidance of the elephant in the room. A hundred-pound or two weight loss could allow those somewhat imprisoned in their carts ability to rise and amble again. Breathing easier, the afflicted might likely have less need to trundle around hooked to breathing devices.
See. There’s much to be said and admired about standing on one’s own two feet.
Beneficial as the ridicule this post offered may be, Las Vegas caters to flaws. So if there are weaknesses which can be exploited, experts reside here to fleece them. Call now. Operators are standing by.
Back to the pretties who introduced this post. Irwin Shaw would’ve recognized them. Shaw would’ve appreciated them.
A popular writer much in the vein of Ira Levin (another crowd pleaser also now consigned to cultural obscurity) during the 1950s and 60s, Shaw wrote a short story titled The Girls in Their Summer Dresses. He extolled women, the male regard of those well turned-out. At one time the story held prominence in America’s literary canon. Not today. Probably got bumped by some whiny chick-lit screed.
I only ought have casually inspected the women seen at the bank. Neither verged on loveliness. Serviceable? Yes. Doable? Certainly. However, Las Vegas sharpened attention devoted upon both. The city fails presenting any surfeit of random beauty. Even “pretty” is a rarity here.
Forget New York or Los Angeles. Las Vegas isn’t even Tucson in this respect.
So the pair glimpsed at the bank absorbed generous notice. In a proper Intermountain setting, among the properly proportioned, the two might’ve brushed my fancy, not tickled it altogether.
But at sea amid garish women who exaggerate their femininity – much to the detriment of that quality! – or those who bury these traits beneath lard, a pair assured enough to venture into public garbed in understated manner yet aware of the male gaze’s vitality to maintain pleasing figures, diverted an afternoon from its accustomed visual banality. They had taken care of themselves.